My eBay Listing Strategy: Don’t use Auctions, Get a Store and Use Fixed Price Listings
Something I don’t understand at all on eBay is this “START YOUR AUCTION AT $.99 FOR MAXIMUM EXPOSURE” business. Sure, you cut down on insertion fees, and you may attract marginally more attention to the listing. But after looking at many Terapeak results while on the hunt, I see that auctions that start at .99 often end up closing at prices as low as 50% of fixed price listings. Try it yourself: next time you use Terapeak, check out the “listing format” widget and see the average prices. Almost uniformly, Fixed Price listings sell for more.
It’s not that hard to see the logic: all you need is one person to be interested in buying your item at the price you set, and you get that price. If you start your auction at .99, then you need lots of people interested and available to do some bidding to get you up to that price.
The Best eBay Listing Strategy for Garage Reselling
Fixed price has so many advantages over auctions that I have obliterated auctions altogether, especially since the recent fee changes in March. For one, with a Basic Store Subscription ($16/mo.), I get Fixed Price listings of ANY price for $.20 per 30 days per listing. This means I can slap “Good ‘Til Cancelled” as a default on my listings, put a high price on unique items, and wait for that one buyer I need to come around and pay out. The Final Value fees are a bit stiffer in Fixed Price, but ultimately the luxury of not having to sit around and micromanage my inventory so much, plus the lower insertion fees for high-price items, makes Basic Store + Fixed Price an excellent strategy. This is a weekend job; don’t pollute your week sweating auctions. Obviously, this strategy is primarily appropriate because of the more distinctive and high-value nature of the items you find at garage sales; if you’re spamming eBay with cheapo Chinese imports, you might think up a different scheme.
The Perils of Using eBay Auctions
The other day I decided to host my own local sale to dump off some of my items that I didn’t feel like reselling on eBay, and unsurprisingly another eBay reseller showed up and started poking around. Besides how obtusely she demonstrated that she was a reseller, she told me that she has to start her auctions at .99 so she needs a big payoff on her items to compensate for the risk of the item closing at a low price. I was completely baffled at how old-fashioned this listing strategy is and how much value it forced her to pass up. She, too, was using Terapeak and would be put off by how little an item sold for in auction, whereas if I were in the same situation, I would heavily discount the information conveyed by auctions and instead look at the upper end of the completed listings.
She complained a bit about how eBay’s “Best Match” system is hurting her exposure, hence why she needs the $.99 listings to be seen at the top. And sure, I can see how that can hurt you in the market of absolutely naive eBay shoppers who don’t know how to sort by price. But in my experience, by using Fixed Price and simply going a buck or so under the lowest other fixed price listing, I almost never fail to sell an item – in these times, people will definitely be thinking to themselves “how can I find the cheapest of these on the site?” It’s not a huge revolutionary step for them to see the little dropdown box that lets them sort from lowest to highest, and for them to filter to Buy it Now results only. Why struggle with eBay’s odd Best Match standards to get seen when all you have to do is sell a unique product for the lowest immediate price available? That’s all the “Best Match” you need.